3 Ways to Work with Musicians Who Aren’t Familiar With You

Ryan Egan —  June 22, 2011 — 2 Comments

This past week was the culmination of an opportunity I was presented with to organize a team to lead worship for several events dealing with our Free Lutheran association’s annual conference.

For the most part things went extremely well and I have no doubt that God was honored and glorified though it.  Planning, however, presented a slight challenge.

Because the conference is a national conference for our entire association, both Free Lutheran churches in town (Living Word, my own, and Abiding Savior, our sister church who planted ours) were the hosts.  As such, we wanted to have musicians from both churches involved on the worship team.  While I at least knew most of the musicians that came from the other church I had never been directly in leadership over them before.  I wanted to lead well AND honor them for giving so much of their time.

I’m hopeful that sometime in your worship leading experience you will have the opportunity to either partner with a sister church, lead worship with a worship team for a conference, or have any other opportunity to lead new musicians. Here are some things that helped me make it a success and a few things I learned in the process as well.

1. Communicate

It is so important to communicate early and clearly.  This is, of course, important with anything, but even more so when you’re leading people who you don’t regularly lead.

  • Communicate the goals of what you’re doing
  • Communicate encouragement to them often
  • Communicate thanks after the event
  • Communicate consistently and often

2. Delegate ownership 

You could come into your position of leadership with a “guns blazing” and “my way or the highway attitude.”  Don’t. Check it long before you get to the proverbial door.  Instead, give the joy of team ownership through some of these ideas:

  • Let the team help you choose the music (I fell in love with a song that I had heard in passing but never paid much attention to because our acoustic guitar player suggested it)
  • Let the team help you produce the songs.  While you might have communicated an initial “roadmap” of the music to your team, there is bound to be a musician that offers a fantastic suggestion that makes the music that much better.  It happened to our team more than once.
  • Let the team lead.  Don’t use your own instrument to intro every song.  Vary who drives the song among the musicians and dont’ step on their musical toes while the song is going.

3. Plan Accordingly

I ended up leading with two teams during the week.  One of the teams was a smaller team leading at a smaller venue.  I’m thankful the bass player owned his own P.A. system as I found out four days before the event that the venue had absolutely no audio equipment.  I also scrambled to find a projection solution for the lyrics of this event and ended up having some trouble with the first song we did because we weren’t familiar with the software I ended up using.  When planning, make sure:


  • All the pieces are in place (audio, including P.A. system, amps, mics, monitors, cables, whatever you’re going to need; video, including projection for the lyrics, someone to operate the system, etc.)
  • All the people are in place (I had originally wanted us to include strings during a song for the offering during our joint worship service, but procastinated finding enough string players and had to abandon having the strings)
  • All the details are in place (thankfully there was a very willing tech staff that met with me every day to make sure the lyrics on the screen were correct, if not for them, we could have had some major issues with the congregation not having the correct words!)
Leading at an event with a group of musicians you’re not familiar with gives you great opportunity to be humble, practice your communication skills, give great ownership to people, and learn how to plan and execute well.  If you get the opportunity, don’t pass it up, but be well-prepared and be sure to encourage and thank your team when all is said and done!


Your turn! Have you had an opportunity like this?  What did you learn?

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Ryan Egan

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Ryan is a follower of Christ, husband, father, worship leader, & creative. He is heavily involved in the Association of Free Lutheran Churches and desires to teach others to live a life of worship in everything they do.
  • John Barcanic

    Thanks, Ryan. These are great reminders of how to work together. From my experiences I’d just add one: have a sense of humor. Whenever you bring together people who haven’t worked together before there are bound to be misunderstandings and mistakes. Keep it light and be willing to laugh at yourself. When I remember that the purpose is to magnify the Lord together it takes a lot of pressure off and keeps the focus where it should be.

  • http://www.iamanoffering.com iamanoffering

    That’s great advice, John!